There is nothing conventional about Bradford College’s International Food and Travel Studio.
One of its classrooms is the front end of a Boeing 737 aircraft fuselage. Another is a sprawling, circular kitchen fitted with the equipment you’d expect to see in a top restaurant.
But for students at the studio school, which opened last September, it is part of their normal school day.
The 32ft long and 12ft wide fuselage, which includes the first nine rows of a 737 aircraft, as well as the cockpit and two front exits, hosts a range of travel and tourism-related lessons, including cabin crew and aviation operations.
The kitchen allows pupils to prepare and cook a range of dishes as they complete hospitality and catering qualifications.
And both made for imposing sights as guests from Bradford hotels, restaurant travel employers gathered at the centre yesterday for its official unveiling.
A group of students joined staff from Ilkley’s The Box Tree restaurant in the kitchen, while others filled the role of front-of-house, as they served a three-course meal to dignitaries, including the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Coun Dale Smith.
“We have been working with the college for a few months now,” said Andrew Pratt, manager of The Box Tree, one of many businesses to forge a link with the college.
“Students have been learning about the restaurant, tourism in Ilkley as well as how the food business works.
“We are getting them to understand the whole ethos of the industry.
“This is a great facility and it’s great to be involved with the college.”
The restaurant has offered placements to college students and one, Fraser Price, now works there two days a week.
Rena Gueller, The Box Tree owner, said she wanted to give placements to some of the young people she had met during the event.
She said: “I find it a privilege to be here and it is very motivational to see how some of the young people are so interested in this industry.
“Some of the young people I’ve worked with today have made me feel a bit emotional, they’ve worked so hard today.
“It’s very important we reach out to the future workforce.
“This is a tough trade and hard work comes with passion. This isn’t the sort of industry people would get into if they weren’t driven by that sort of passion.
“They have to want to do it.”
Studio schools are a new state school model for 14 to 19-year-olds designed to pioneer enterprise projects and real work, and it seems to be working at the college.
It has built up links with businesses including Jet2.com, Aagrah, Lahore, Cedar Court Hotel, The Midland Hotel and Provident Financial.
At the moment, it has around 40 students, but will grow to around 300, and offers BTEC qualifications in travel and tourism, hospitality and catering and business.
Many of those involve work placements.
“Giving students experience of the world of work is the spine of what we offer,” said Barbara Trayer, associate director.
“We can give businesses a future workforce.
“We prepare students with the skills businesses need and give them an insight into the world of work.
“A lot of young people at the age of 14 don’t know what they want to do, so giving them experience can help them make decisions about their future.”
Although the focus of the centre’s opening was on the hospitality and catering side of its offering, the college boss said a group of its students were to travel to London to meet British Airways to learn about the job of cabin crew.
Dwayne Saxton, executive headteacher, said: “There are many reasons to choose international food and travel, especially in Bradford due to its diversity of cultures. With Leeds Bradford International Airport next door and Bradford regeneration strategy to become a City of Food, the studio is ideally specialised for those wanting a career in the food and travel industry.”
The studio is backed by the McMillan Education Trust, which was developed by Bradford College to oversee a group of academies and studio schools across West Yorkshire.
It also includes Appleton Academy and will soon include two more studio schools specialising in film, theatre and costume and health occupations, which will open in 2014.